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Sabres Pay for Mistakes, Lose to Ducks 4-3 at Home



Anaheim Ducks Buffalo Sabres game recap

The Buffalo Sabres dominated in shot attempts, shot quality, and shots on goal, but the Anaheim Ducks fired the last shot as the Sabres lost 4-3. It was Buffalo’s 17th loss at home in 29 games, adding to their woes playing at KeyBank Center.

The Sabres got off to a fast start, with speed and chances aplenty. Jordan Greenway buried a high-slot wrister just over nine minutes in, giving Buffalo the lead. After Adam Henrique responded about a minute later, both teams went into the first intermission tied despite the tilted ice in the Sabres’ favor.

The second period was much of the same, with Buffalo imposing their will and Tage Thompson cashing in on his patented one-timer on the powerplay. This time it took about four minutes, but Frank Vatrano evened things up again and then followed up with another goal to give the Ducks the surprise lead over the Sabres.

Zach Benson tipped in a Henri Jokiharju point shot to put the game back to all-square shortly after, but the Ducks regained the lead on a Troy Terry marker and never surrendered again.

Must Read: Sabres Force Overtime Late; Win 3-2 in Minnesota

Impact Players

The Sabres rolled all four forward lines well, but there’s no doubt that Peyton Krebs, JJ Peterka, and Zach Benson stood out right from the jump. Krebs was a new addition to the line, and he fit like a glove with the young wingers on Monday.

Peterka posted Buffalo’s highest individual expected goals per Evolving-Hockey, in large part due to the relentless forechecking and great puck movement by the trio. Krebs had a couple plays in particular that set up his linemates for prime scoring chances.

“He’s earned his way up,” head coach Don Granato said of the center. “We have a very talented guy there who’s building a foundation of how to play the game the right way.”

The Difference

The glaring determining factor in Monday’s game was that the defense made some costly mistakes, and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was unable to bail them out.

“We did not make a lot of mistakes…we paid for the mistakes we made,” Granato said. “We’ve defended really well to the point that it’s typically mistakes [costing the team] rather than system breakdown.”

Those mishaps could’ve been overcome by the offensive opportunities generated by the Sabres, but John Gibson was the better goalie in this game. According to Evolving-Hockey, Gibson saved nearly half of a goal above expected, while Luukkonen’s 1.5 expected goals faced resulted in four goals against.

What’s Next

The Sabres will hit the road following practice tomorrow to face the Canadiens in Montreal. As far as standings go, the Sabres and Canadiens are neck-and-neck despite Montreal being much worse in overall goal-differential. The Canadiens have lost two straight and have only won three of their last 10 games.